Dolly Dearest

It's time to play...

Year of Release: 1991
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Running Time: 93 minutes (1:33)
Director: Maria Lease


Denise Crosby ... Marilyn Wade
Sam Bottoms ... Elliot Wade
Rip Torn ... Karl Resnick
Chris Demetral ... Jimmy Wade
Candace Hutson ... Jessica Wade
Lupe Ontiveros ... Camilla
Enrique Renaldo ... Estrella
Alma Martinez ... Alva
Will Gotay ... Luis


A centuries-old demonic curse turns the world's most beautiful doll into the world's most savage killing machine. Now, this dolly has her deranged eyes aimed at an innocent little girl named Jessica - and will do anything to possess her.


Dolly Dearest, the movie that teaches us... there's a reason why people bury things. Nothing good is ever buried, at least not permanently. Sure, you're probably thinking pirate booty. But they always come back and dig it up later. Yarr, they do indeed. Thar be no real treasure for the takin'. Ever been to a landfill and wonder how they accumulate trash for decades on end? Bury it, of course. Poopies, also buried, makes good fertilizer. And perhaps my most convincing example of all, the mass grave of E.T. cartridges for the Atari 2600 game system. I think I've proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing good gets buried. So why, OH WHY, would you go digging around in the earth in tombs that people underwent such time and effort to bury? This isn't like the tombs that've been covered over by weather and time, they deliberately sealed this sucker and barred the entry way. See, this is the problem with the modern world. Man thinks he's so smart, and so advanced these days that he can handle anything. He's big shit. The world is his oyster and he's gonna grab that pearl and impress some ditzy blonde with it to get into her pants. But man never bothers to consider whether an ancient satanic civilization might have created the spawn of Satan an walled 'em up inside a temple. Man doesn't NEED to worry about that kind of thing, cause he's got the situation under control. He can handle the load, he is an unshakable rock of power in the face of danger. That is of course, until the spirit of the demon child busts loose and starts inhabiting the bodies of all the dolls in his factories. So the next time you see someone wandering around with a metal detector and a shovel, you might take a moment to slap some sense into them and tell them about what happens in Dolly Dearest. Think of it as a way to help better society.

So Dolly Dearest begins with some Indiana Schmones tinkering around an extremely heavy stone door that appears to be the entry way to Fred Flintstone's house. He attaches a winch to it and tries to pull it down, but nothing doing. So he pokes it a couple more times with the rock hammer Andy Dufresne used to escape from Shawshank and all the sudden the door caves in on him an squashes him into Smuckers preserves and a menacing looking red swirl bursts out of the cave and makes for civilization. Credits roll. The next thing we see we're on a plane with the lamest white bread family the casting director could find headed south of the border. Dad's opening up a doll factory he's blind bought from a crooked Mexican real estate agent, so they're expecting to hit it big. The Mexican shyster takes the family of dupes to show 'em all just how bad he's duped them, but Dad's the only one whose really all that upset about it because Mom's pretty hot and can always leave him if the business venture fails. Mom's played by Denise Crosby who played Lieutenant Yar from Star Trek the Next Generation, whose just made like Shelly Long and left a hit TV series to star in movies that most people won't enjoy. The nerdy son notices the ruins and decides he's gonna be a real pain in the ass for the archaeologist who's now working the dig since Indiana Schmoe got squished into jello gelatin snacks. The archaeologist is played by Rip Torn. Rip's pretty much always in a bad mood and this movie is no exception. So after having resigned himself to the poor house that this venture has just put him into, Dad pulls it together and lets the daughter have one of the finished dolls that've conveniently been left displayed on a shelf, and they all leave to go see what color the running water in their new house is.

The house turns out to be pretty nice digs considering the exchange rate from dollars to pesos and also comes complete with a dollhouse in the back yard and an extremely superstitious housekeeper. So the son starts spending all his time making Rip's life a living hell, hanging out where he's not wanted an such, basically being Joey Bishop, and the daughter starts hanging out in the dollhouse cutting her hair like JonBenet Ramsey and learning to speak in tongues. Jessica (the daughter) starts acting like Zsa Zsa Gabor on her period an Yar can't figure out why until Dolly electrocutes the housekeeper an gives her Bride of Frankenstein hair. Meanwhile a crazy nun is trying to get Rip to stop digging around in Satan's den, so she pours gasoline all over an tries to turn the place into a Chinese fire drill, without even bothering to check an see if Rip is inside, I might add. So Rip is a little bit pissed off, he grabs hold of the nun before she can drop the match and makes it clear that he'll dig up Satan Jr. anytime he likes an that she needs to get back to the penguin house, pronto. Then Yar goes to the penguin house to find out what she already knows so that she can rush home threaten Dolly with grievous bodily harm if she doesn't get her act together an stop teaching Jessica to speak in tongues an possessing her. But Dolly's having none of it, an she makes Jessica put the strangulation on Yar until the son puts a round of double ought buckshot through Dolly's midsection an blows her through the front door at the speed of sound. Then the other Dollies have to kill the night watchman at the factory because he won't stop sexually harassing them. Meanwhile, Rip's finally gotten the miniscule amount of dirt that had hitherto been keeping him out of the crypt moved and takes a look inside the fancy stone coffin where he finds the dried corpse of a goat-man baby and confirms that everyone who is not him has been right all along. With everyone on the same page, Rip meets up with Dad and Yar and it's time for Yar's Revenge. If you wanna find out how it ends you'll have to watch it yourself. Or read someone elses' review.

This movie really gets dumped on a lot, and I think I know why. The title is not Child's Play, and the doll is not voiced by Brad Dourif. Nothing more than that. The notion that it sucks in so many opinions is inexplicably linked to the title of "Child's Play", found elsewhere in their review. This is not only a piss poor reason to pan a movie, but it's also god damn lazy. It's also an absolutely terrible attempt to appear even remotely authoritative on the subject of horror movies, because there haven't been any new concepts in probably 30 years, minimum. Maybe 50. What we get, and will continue to get, are variations on old ideas, or the combination of multiple ideas. Now I'm not saying that some movies can't do it better than others, that is without question an accurate statement. But to give the movie the thumbs down because the concept has been handled better by someone else, is a fantastic way to have your opinions disregarded by anyone with any sense. That being said, Child's Play is the better movie of the two, but it in no way diminishes the value of Dolly Dearest. Dolly Dearest is in fact a very well made horror movie. The plot is interesting, and as original as can be expected by this point in time. This would be an instance of two different concepts coming together, as I mentioned earlier. The acting is good, with recognizable character actors, and character actors always go over well in horror movies because they need to be grounded in reality if they're to be any good. Character actors come off as real people better than the big name stars could ever hope to, and that's what you want in horror movies. Realism, to counteract the insanity. The shooting locations have an authentic feel about them, and the soundtrack fits in extremely well. With a movie like this, the make or break aspect is always going to be how good the special effects look. And I'm going on the record, they look GOOD. Really good. The guys working on this were not only pros, but they knew their limitations. Fantastic puppeteering, and the body double (Ed Gale, who, incidentally, was also Chucky's body double in the original Child's Play) is used at all the right times. Perfect. That aspect of the movie is at least as good as Child's Play. Maybe better. Yeah, I said it, and I meant it.

Overall, Dolly Dearest is a very under rated, serious horror movie. It's unusual for a movie with this type of subject matter to go the dead serious route. More often than not the creators will give it at least a touch of humor, I think the reason for this is that the subject matter is so outrageous that they don't see any way that the majority of people can take a movie with a plot like this seriously. And they're right, no question about it. So by putting some comedic moments in it, they show the audience that they're not taking themselves too seriously and decrease the ridicule factor by several times. I don't really see any problem with this, especially since there will always be those people that want to find something wrong with what you've made. They will find it, and if that school of thought gets too wide spread, you're sunk. I think that's happened here with this movie, and not just this movie, or even movies in general. Taking things seriously and coming right out and saying you like things that other people may think are stupid, can lead to becoming just another topic for ridicule for these people. And these days, most people are desperately seeking the approval of more or less everyone that once sought and were able to acquire the approval of all the insecure people that came before them. It's really very pathetic, not to mention transparent. That's my public service announcement for the day. The point is, don't listen to what all the short sighted sheep have trained you to think about these kinds of movies, and life in general. If you watch them with an open mind and still think they're terrible, that's different, but for god's sake, do your own thinking and run it through your own battery of tests. That means not taking my word as gospel as well.

Rating: 82%